Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Messing about on the river

There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
Kenneth Grahame

I've always loved boats and water and after watching Brideshead revisited one too many times, decided that I had to give punting a go. So it was that on Sunday I headed to Oxford with Tom and 3 friends to take my chances on the river.
With our Marks and Spencers picnic safely stowed, we gave in to our upper class pretentions and tentitively wobbled our way from the bank. Other than how lovely the boat house and woods were all around us, the first thing we noticed were the champagne corks floating in the river. This isn't a place that kids come to drink White Lightening at the weekend!
Tom heroically took first punt and we meandered our way downstream, narrowly avoiding other wobbly boats and the bank. Whether it's just Oxford, or the fact that most people were absolute beginners I don't know, but everyone was really friendly. Passing boats would swap pleasantries, joke about piracy (I was tempted to raid the boat carrying Pimms myself) and generally make the whole thing feel like a jolly caper that we were all in together.
We stopped twice over the course of the day for picinics and I got out the G&T in a can (thanks Marks for your genius inventions!). Desipte the boathouse being heaving when we were setting off, once we'd gone a few hundred yards away the river became very quiet with only the occasional boat or picnicers to be seen. While the punting itself was reasonably tricky and hard work (I'm just not strong enough to control the massive metal pole), laying in the boat as it glides under trees was a totally relaxing and rejuvinating experience.
When I planned the trip back in May, I'd envisaged myself wearing wide linen trousers and a bonnet. On the Saturday I realised that while I had a suitable hat, I didn't have any trousers and set about running some up. Foolishly, this meant that at 6pm I sat down to attempt my first pair of trousers...
I think they turned out damned well for a first, rushed attempt! I was still finishing them off in the car on the way there, but they stood up to a day of punting and for that I'm giving myself a pat on the back. I'll be posting about them in detail very soon! To continue the blue theme I wore my blue bow blouse and a vintage hat with a pale blue ribbon on it. You can't see my shoes here but they were this pair from Primark.
Sadly I left my parasole in the car - actually I'm very annoyed about that as my shoulders burnt quite badly in the sun! Luckily the hat performed its primary function (other than decoration, obviously) and kept my face out of the worst of it - I have a light tan but no redness. Go hat!
I had a really wonderful day and more than being on the river really appreciated the chance to share something nice with my friends, free from modern distractions (we all though it best to leave our phones in the cars!). We laughed more than I have for a long time as we got stuck in mud, nearly lost the person punting to low hanging trees and getting the pole stuck we drifted away from it, and of course, low bridges.
This one was barely higher than the punt. Much hilarity ensued.

I highly recommend punting for a day's fun. We'd never been before but managed not to drown ourselves and Oxford has the most wonderful scenery beside the river. We hired our boat from the Cherwell Boathouse where they provide everything you'd need for a very reasonable £16phr at the weekends, or £80 for a full day (10am - dusk) and as you can get 6 people in a punt (plus dogs!) it works out pretty cheaply.


  1. Oh, what a brilliant day! I have always wanted to go punting. Your outfit is crisp and lovely! Well done on the trousers and I love your shoes! I'm hunting a black and white pair :)

  2. Oh it sounds like an absolutely fabulous way to spend a day! Love your outfit, I can't believe you made those trousers so quickly the look great!